Marie Stopes Comes to Yemen [Archives:1998/23/Health]

June 8 1998

The first Marie Stopes Mother and Child Health Center was opened in Sanaa on Monday, 1 June. The clinic includes departments for maternal and reproductive health, pediatrics, and health education for midwives and other health workers.
Minister of Health, Dr. Abdulwali A. Nasher:
“I can see clearly the positive effect these centers would make on the health of the nation throughout the country. Many thanks to all those who were behind the success, to mention but few of them:
Ahmed Ali Abdulla Salah, Mohammed Duwaid (two members of our parliament, neighbors from this constituency who supported the MS project) and Ahmed Ali Saeedi – Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
“Many thanks to the dynamic lady who was instrumental in the establishment of the first MS center in Yemen and where the dream came to be true. This success would not have been possible without her dedication. I am sure we all know who this great lady is… She is Jane Diamond who I’m sure would continue to do this great work and continue to love Yemen and help it’s poor people for whom she will work to provide more MS centers.
“I also wish to thank, the British Embassy for all the support they have offered for the establishment of the Sanaa center and the support they will offer for the Aden and other governorate centers.
“We should not forget the role of the Yemeni-British Friendship Association, whose efforts in the success of the project would not be forgotten.”
Ms. Jane Diamond, Marie Stopes International Program Development Manager:
Q: Could you tell us about the Marie Stopes centers and the services they provide?
A: Marie Stopes is an international non-government organization. We operate in 27 countries around the world, but this is the 1st MS project in Yemen. We will be providing maternal and child health care, and family planning and reproductive planning services.
MS was established in 1971, and is now working in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East. We are currently working in Yemen and Lebanon.
We have the support of the Ministry of Health with proposed centers in Aden, Taiz, Ibb, Mukalla, and Hodeida to be modelled on the Sanaa clinic. We will be seeking donor funding.
Q: How did the opening of this center come about?
A: I have been working with Dr. Nasher, writing the proposal together between MS and the Ministry of Health. We will be carrying out a base-line survey this week in the area around the clinic, and will be undertaking focus group discussions. Thus, we can really understand the needs of the local communities so that we can best serve them.
Q: Are the MS health services provided free of charge?
A: We will be charging for services because the whole philosophy is to be able to provide financially sustainable services so that we can ensure the transfer of sustainable knowledge and skills through the clinic team.
Q: How many people are currently working for the clinic?
A: We have a clinic team of 12. The clinic manager is also the clinic doctor, a female doctor from Iraq. The rest of the team are Yemenis. The MS policy is that we like to work with internationals in order to ensure the sustainablity of knowledge and skills.
We have two midwives, a doctor, a lab technician, a pharmacist, a receptionist, two health educators, two guards and a driver. We have been working with an MP and also the son of the Yemeni President who has been paying rent for our clinic building. He has supported us tremendously.
Q: To what extent do you cooperate with the Ministry of Health?
A: The project has been developed very nicely over the last three years, just with Yemenis and the Ministry of Health. We will be working with the Ministry of Health to improve the capacity and to strengthen the services of the Ministry of Health by providing training in reproductive health care later this year for the Ministry of Health personnel.
Also I think it’s a very admirable project that the President’s son is supporting. We have had no obstacles at all. We have received the utmost support, participation and cooperation. We value this enormously and would like to thank everybody who has supported us. We hope this will lead to a very successful project, and be able to serve the needs of local communities.
Q: How will the MS clinic in Sanaa deal with different cultural attiutdes towards family planning and reproductive health?
A: We are very aware of the cultural sensitivities and of the environment in which we work. We will, as an organization, always ensure that our services are culturally appropriate.
Q: What other services will you be providing?
A: We will be providing child vaccines to the Ministry of Health in order to increase the number of children who are vaccinated. We will also provide vaccines for maternal health and for pregnant women.
Our preventive health care project aims not just to provide services, but also preventive health care education.
We do not tell people how many children they should have. I hope people will learn to make these decisions about improving their health care themselves. We will not just be doing clinic services but also community services so our team will be going out into the communities and providing health education.
Ismail Al-Ghabiry,
Yemen Times